Watch out for Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears next year. That’s what I’ve been telling myself for weeks.
The Bears turnaround seemed to need it’s own post, similar to the Pete Carroll-Seahawks discussion.
However, once I set out on my quest for evidence to back up this argument I heard the disheartening sound of deflation.
Over three of the last four weeks — the last two were really great — Cutler looked like the former rising Broncos signal caller, not the 26 interception, 9 fumble Bears catastrophe from this year.
However, looking at the stats and the players who helped Cutler play well in three of the last four weeks, there were only two real strong trends — Devin Aromashodu and Cutler was still getting sacked on a regular basis.
Aromashodu had 22 of his 24 catches, 282 of his 298 yards and all four of his TDs in the last four weeks.
Meanwhile, the other parts of the offense were a mixed bag.
- Devin Hester only played in one game, but had three catches for 75 yards.
- Johnny Knox was good in the first game, sub-mediocre in the second and didn’t do anything in the final two.
- Greg Olsen had 11 catches for 163 yards and two scores over that stretch but really only took over in the final game when he had a 5-94-1 line.
- Earl Bennett was a bit player.
- Matt Forte was decidedly mediocre in every game except the last one.
What’s going on here is a lack of true wide receiver talent — i.e. no Brandon Marshall, for starters — and some serious offensive line issues.
Cutler was sacked 35 times in 2009. Even over those last four games he was dropped in the pocket nine times for a loss of 41 yards.
Say what you want about Mike Tice as an NFL head coach, but the Bears adding him as offensive line coach can’t make them any worse. He was Vikings offensive line coach from 1997-2001, when the Vikings offense was pretty special under Dennis Green.
If Tice makes some changes and fixes up what he inherits, it will benefit the Bears greatly in 2010.
Some player thoughts for 2010:
- Aromashodu should emerge as a significant fantasy presence
- Forte should benefit from improved line play and become a serious value in 2010.
- Cutler should be pressured less, meaning he’ll force fewer throws — be warned, he’s always had issues with picks (career TD/INT: 81/63) — meaning fewer mistakes overall.
- If Cutler and the line improve, it should mean more opportunities for Olsen, too.
Please note the liberal use of the word “should.”
We’ll have to tread through the offseason and the draft to see if Chicago addresses their lack of a playmaking wide receiver and to see what changes are made across the line.
If you were like me and thinking maybe Cutler was finally turning it around, reign in your wild imagination for a bit.
However, if you hear good things leaking from NFL Summer Camp and the Bears come out looking like a much-improved team in the 2010 preseason, don’t pass it off as preseason hype.
What do you think? Did Cutler turn the corner? Is there any chance you’ll pick him in 2010? Let us know in the comments.